Aizawl/Raipur, Nov. 29: Ten personnel of the 2nd Mizoram India Reserve Battalion, currently deployed in Chhattisgarh, died as Maoist guerrillas blew up the jeep they were travelling in near Konta in Dantewada district this afternoon. Two civilians also died in the blast.
The jawans had boarded a private jeep in order to dodge the rebels and reach their base camp in Banda safely. But, they failed to breach the Maoist strategy.
Inspector-general of police R.K. Vij told The Telegraph that all the 10 personnel, who were returning to their station after duty in Konta market, along with the two civilians, died on the spot.
Of the two civilians, one was the jeep’s driver and the other could have been a helper or a passenger.
The jawans, despite strict warning to move on foot in the mine-infested state, had apparently “forced” the jeep driver to stop.
As the jeep reached Murliguda — 6km from Konta and 550km south of the Chhattisgarh capital of Raipur — the rebels detonated a landmine.
Sources said the vehicle was tossed several feet in air before it landed and broke into pieces. The bodies of the personnel were disfigured beyond recognition.
However, Adjutant Narayan Thapa from the 2nd Mizoram India Reserve Battalion’s headquarters in Sukhma said the vehicle tripped on a pressure landmine.
“They were travelling in a civilian jeep and the vehicle tripped on the landmine about 50km from Sukhma around 2.15pm. The vehicle was pulverised and all the occupants died on the spot.”
He said the Mizoram personnel belonged to two platoons of the battalion’s E Company, which has its headquarters in Konta. The jawans, he added, were returning to their Banda base after purchasing essential commodities from Konta when the incident occurred. He gave the names of the victims as havildars T.K. Chalapan and Ralliantawna, constables Vanlalhruaia, Thangkhangen, Giano Chakma, Zaihmingthanga, R. Laltlanzova, Laltleipuia, Biakrotluanga and a grade IV employee, Lalduhoma.
Vij said senior police officers from Dantewada and Konta have rushed to the spot, adding that security forces have launched a combing operation to trace the rebels involved in the attack.
Adjutant Thapa said Commandant P.C. Lalchhuanawma is among those who have rushed to the spot.Adjutant Thapa said the bodies would be taken to Raipur, 450km from Sukhma, for post mor-tem and then sent to Mizoram.
Today’s incident was the first major attack by Chhattisgarh Naxalites against the 2nd Mizoram India Reserve Battalion after the force was deployed in the state about a year ago to combat the red army. It was the rebels’ second major attack in a month.
Earlier, the rebels had disrupted the Chhattisgarh Foundation Day bash. They struck near Pammed in Bijapur district on November 2, killing 11 policemen.
The Nagaland Armed Police (India Reserve) Battalion had returned home in July 2007 after nearly two years of duty in the state.